"Speak! Say something — anything," CSI: NY 's Mac Taylor demands during an interrogation on Friday's episode. Though it may seem like a pretty innocuous line, it's significant during this hour: Even though it comes roughly midway through the episode, it's the first line of dialogue uttered.
CSI: NY's Season 9: This year, it's personal
Appropriately titled "Unspoken," Friday's CSI: NY (9/8c, CBS) eschews the spoken word for the music of Green Day, which underscores the action of the episode's first three acts. During those scenes, a gunman (Boss's Jeff Hephner) opens fire at a political rally for a senator (Neal McDonough). In the aftermath, CSI Lindsay (Anna Belknap) is injured and a child is accidentally shot as the gunman flees.
Executive producer Pam Veasey, who crafted the episode, says the idea was inspired by last year's Oscar-winning Best Picture The Artist and came to her when she and the team were pitching fresh ideas for the perennial bubble show's ninth season. "We had pitched that our [goal] this season was: 'Do the unexpected,'" Veasey tells TVGuide.com. "[This episode] really fulfills that requirement. We couldn't do it like The Artist. I [didn't] want to do cards and go black and white, but I thought, 'Is there a way not to speak and tell a story?'"
Neal McDonough heads to CSI: NY
Veasey says once she landed on the idea to use music instead of dialogue, she was adamant about using only one band. Fortunately, Green Day, the punk band who made a comeback splash several years ago with American Idiot, was interested in featuring music from its new trilogy of albums, ¡UNO!, ¡DOS! and ¡TRE!
"Some songs fit completely to what I knew I was writing. Others I was going to find a place because they felt like they would fit," Veasey says. "It seemed like it was meant to be. I didn't try to write what the lyrics were telling us, I tried to write the things that I wanted to write, but I knew the mood and the style that would fit the music. I was trying to get the same sentiment from lyrics what the scene was about."
Even with the music playing beneath the visuals, Veasey acknowledges that the episode is a risky experiment. "It was an extra challenge," she says. "You want the audience to not miss [the dialogue]. ... The actors were challenged because they rely on words. They had to act. You wanted them to express exactly what they were going through and I think they all did a tremendous job."
Exclusive: Meet CSI: NY's new Lucy Messer!
That was made somewhat easier by the thematic touches Veasey added to the story. Although the crime of the week puts Lindsay in danger, it takes place while she and her husband Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) are enjoying a day off with their daughter Lucy (Brooklyn Silzer). "It was about the unexpected things that happen when you just have a day off," Veasey says. "Lindsay has to be a mother first and not a cop, and Danny had to be a husband. The audience loves that relationship so much and it's nice to see the conflicts in it that are external, not the normal marriage conflicts. And with Lucy, it was really important for me to show Danny and Lindsay as parents."
Also playing into the "unspoken" theme is Mac (Gary Sinise), who is quietly battling aphasia by himself. "It's such a secret for him. It's something he's in all by himself," Veasey says. "He's really concerned about others knowing about it. Whether he feels like it's a weakness or that they'll make a bigger deal out of it, he really wants to get it over with and get through a process to get better. And he believes he can do it alone."
See photos of the CSI: NY cast
So, did Veasey consider doing the entire episode without words? "I did," she says. "A lot of people were nervous about it. That was our initial thought, but what happened as the script evolved, it just got to a point where you knew you had to explain something. Just to keep it in the nature of what we do and keep the crime element, there was this time where you needed the words. The victory was sweeter with the words."
CSI: NY airs Fridays at 9/8c on CBS.